Walk into the Joann Hawkins Music Building on Monday nights and the sound of drums, singing and laughter can be heard reverberating down the hallways.
While the Chapel Band leads the student body in worship during Tuesday and Thursday Chapels, they find time once a week to practice, receive coaching and spend time together to give the students their best.
California Baptist University students are required to attend Chapel every semester. Students who have been at CBU longer than a year find this year looks and sounds different than in the past.
One of the changes is the presence of Hector Jimenez, assistant professor of music and Chapel worship leader, who is now on stage with the band. As his first year leading, Jimenez said he is particular about song choice and message to better reach students.
“I’m hoping to see a long-lasting effect, campus- wide, as students develop the heart of worship,” Jimenez said. “I’m really trying to be intentional about not just doing one type of music but incorporating gospel music, hymns and songs that represent the student population at large.”
Gabriel also said there will always be at least five singers every service who will occasionally be joined by members of the choirs to encourage congregational singing.
One member of the Chapel Band, Karissa Yeager, sophomore Christian behavioral studies major and singer, said it often can be nerve-wracking to sing in front of so many students.
“It can be intimidating but I just remember when we go up there it’s to call people into God’s presence. It’s not about me,” Yeager said. “We’re going up on stage as leaders but also as servants.”
Anjielene Torres, junior nursing major and singer, also said she has to remind herself to focus on God and not on herself.
“We set everything else aside and know that God is our ultimate goal,” Torres said.
Before the services, students put in hours of practice to improve their sound.
“It takes a ton of practice. I listen to the songs until I’m tired of them,” said David Martinez, junior biology major and drummer. “But I stay motivated because it’s about turning hearts to God.”
Despite all students being required to attend Chapel at least 15 times a semester, the worship team expressed how they care for the students and how the goal of chapel is to engage everyone.
“It can be discouraging when we see blank, unengaged faces in the crowd,” said Sierra Andino-Wilson, senior sociology major. “I try to pray over those people while I’m up there. We consciously make that effort to pray for individual students in the crowd.”
While Chapel Band consists of musicians with a prepared set, they all agree that worship is more than singing.
“Worship is anything that brings glory to God,” said Noah Young, senior criminal justice major. “If you’re doing what God made you to do, then you’re worshiping.”